Sunday 25 August 2019

Letters to the Editor: 'Ordaining married men as priests might work in an era when parishes face funding problems'

Support: Elder married priests could look after their families through their pensions and stipends
Support: Elder married priests could look after their families through their pensions and stipends
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Sarah MacDonald's report on Amazon bishops considering the possibility of ordaining elder married men to the priesthood (Irish Independent, June 18) made for interesting reading.

Back in 1972, I lived in a west London parish that had the blessing of one of the first married deacons, whose children I taught in the local school. The deacon was a shop-floor worker employed in the local bus factory.

He did not have to undergo the massive theological studies of present-day deacons. He did not wear clerical garb.

Sadly the ministry of deacon has become increasingly clericalised down the years.

I suspect that the likely Amazon experiment will not be demanding in length of study preparation.

As principal in two English schools, I had the advantage of three different married priests on my staff.

These priest teachers served in parishes at weekends.

They each had the security of a teaching salary with which to support their families.

In an Irish context, the way forward may well be for elder married priests who are able to support their families through their pensions and any small stipends that might come their way.

There is no way that the average €22,000 salary enjoyed by present single priests would ever support a young family and the evidence is that many parishes, including my own, are finding it increasingly difficult to provide the necessary funding of a resident priest.

Alan Whelan

Beaufort, Co Kerry

Let's look at the evidence when it comes to cannabis

In response to Patricia Casey ('Dangers of sleepwalking into legalisation of cannabis use', Irish Independent, June 15), how much longer must we be berated by the sort of arguments that she puts

The 'Cannabis Risk Alliance' was directly contradicted by another group, similarly qualified, just a few days later and by the overwhelming weight of medical and scientific opinion around the world.

Research shows the risk of mental illness with cannabis is one in 20,000. By comparison the risk of being struck by lightning is one in 3,000.

Medical cannabis is not "use of cannabis of the CBD variety". Bedrocan, the leading EU medical cannabis supplier, has three products with THC content of 22pc, 13.5pc and 14pc.

Cannabis has been used as medicine for more than 5,000 years and doctors around the world now prescribe it with enormous benefit to patients. Some 99pc of Irish doctors have not been educated in the endocannabinoid system, through which cannabis works.

In other countries, medical cannabis has special regulations. Trying to regulate a 500-molecule medicine in the same way as a single molecule pharmaceutical product is impossible.

Prof Casey is wrong about the Netherlands. By separating the cannabis market from hard drugs, the rate of heroin addiction is one-sixth that of Ireland. So talk about a 'slippery slope' and a 'softening-up process' is simply wrong.

I agree that the Government must be careful of vested interest groups but these include doctors funded by pharmaceutical companies. Psychiatrists only see people with a problem and are blind to the benefits that 99pc of people experience. Can cannabis be misused and cause harm? Yes. Is the risk as great as with alcohol or tobacco? No. Is it any more than with coffee, bacon or chocolate? Not really. It really is time we acted in accordance with the evidence.

Peter Reynolds

Address with editor

Influence on the issue of gender has been growing

The idea that primary school students or indeed others should be facilitated in the way that St Brigid's School in Greystones, Co Wicklow, has now done is both careless and extraordinary. Careless, in that it is imputes far more knowledge of the world and therefore of the implications of their choices to these children, and extraordinary when a parents' council and a head teacher follow rather than lead.

Current gender 'phenomena' are not happening in isolation. The ideas and urgings of Judith Butler in her influential book 'Gender Trouble' have been part of the syllabus in third-level institutions in the English speaking world, including Ireland, for many years.

Her goal as stated is that cultural configurations of sex and gender might proliferate... confounding the very binarism of sex, exposing as she puts it "its fundamental unnaturalness". She posited that what we believe and accept to be an internal feature of ourselves is really the only one we anticipate. She noted that drag subverts the 'performative dimension of gender'; and concluded that when such categories have come into question the 'reality' of gender is also put into crisis.

Masculine and feminine are not biologically fixed, but culturally presupposed, she states. It is her opinion that "identities can be affirmed and relinquished" without reference to any norm. Does this mean that you can be anything you want any time you want?

The school uniform fuss does not exist in a vacuum. Nor did it originate in the minds and hearts of primary school children. The forerunners of these ideas have been around for some time.

Marie MacSweeney

Drogheda, Co Louth

Children need rules and guidance from their elders

Principal Marie Costello stated that they want children in their school to be comfortable in their school uniforms, so they have decided to implement the policy instructed by the pupils at their national school in Greystones.

A fair implementation, you might say.

What if I said that I'd be more comfortable wearing pyjamas rather than the prescribed uniform? Would that be OK because she stated that she wants children to be happy and have a good experience of school?

Has anybody given a thought as to whether this policy is beneficial to the children as they mature or do we just accept the fact that children can decide what's best for them?

In my experience children don't know what's best for breakfast, let alone how they are going to develop. Children need guidance and rules, not choices and confusion.

Can we not act like adults and guide children? I've no prejudice against trans adults but I do not like the trend to allow children to decide to go this route. We were all a bit mixed up as teenagers but most of us found our way without having to decide at the age of 12 or younger, as seems to be the case in this national school, whether we felt male or female.

Patrick Cleary

Address with editor

Boris shows just how big a mess the Tories are in

Dear Conservatives. Are your ears blocked? Listen carefully. This is how 'the people' view you.

You are seen as out of touch and accident prone. David Cameron gambled with Brexit and lost. Theresa May gambled with an election and lost the majority. Your party became ever more fractured. In-fighting, deaf to the voices of the voters, you have plunged along like squabbling children. Boris Johnson, philanderer, bungler and buffoon, in a bizarre and utterly unfathomable move, was made foreign secretary, a job at which he failed spectacularly. The public don't want him.

But, deaf to the public, you are doing it again. You are allowing the artful dodger himself, Boris Johnson, in his buffoonery, his loose relationship with the truth, his toxic relationship with Europe, a shot at PM. Exactly how far out of touch with the public do you want to go?

You took a pounding in the European elections, yet you stand before us now, disparate and unruly, spouting conflicted mishmash, from multiple positions, looking like wobbly jellies, all fingers and thumbs, pushing that Machiavellian blimp Johnson up the greasy pole in the misguided and completely unreasonable hope that he might make a passable PM.

It is said that Johnson couldn't run a whelk shop. This is a tragicomedy. Backing Johnson supports the moral low-ground. We don't want him.

You are alarmingly adrift of public opinion and out over the horizon on common sense.

I'd wager you are doomed.

John B Thynne

Bletchley, UK

Irish Independent

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